BEAUMONT, Texas — The Sam Houston men's basketball team shook off the rust of a nine-day layoff late in the second half to pull away for a 77-71 victory over Lamar at the Montagne Center Monday night.
With the win, the Bearkats clinched a spot in the Southland Conference Tournament for the 11th time under head coach Jason Hooten. It marks the 19th straight season Sam Houston (17-6, 11-1) qualified for the SLC tournament, which is the longest active streak in the league.
Junior Zach Nutall led the Kats with 18 points and eight rebounds. Junior Donte Powers added 17 points, senior Demarkus Lampley scored 16 and freshman Bryce Nutall chipped in 12 points.
The game was close the entire way, but Lampley provided the spark that put Sam Houston up for good. He was fouled on a 3-pointer and knocked down the free throw to convert a four-point play to put the Bearkats up 66-62 with just over three minutes to play.
Lampley then drilled another 3 a minute later to extend Sam Houston's lead to six with a 7-0 run. Junior Tristan Ikpe, Monroe and Nutall all made crucial free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Cardinals (4-15, 2-9) kept it closer than the previous meeting between the two teams in Huntsville on Jan. 13 because of their dominance on the boards. Lamar outrebounded SHSU 48-33 and 19-5 on the offensive glass which turned into 17 second-chance points.
The Bearkats got it done defensively, however. Sam Houston held the Cardinals to just 35 percent shooting from the floor while the Kats hit 43 percent of their field goal attempts.
Sam Houston hits the road for a critical matchup with Abilene Christian on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.